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Starbucks winners, thanks and a word about ownership

Congrats to Dyan and Karen in Tally who were the winners of the Starbucks Gold Card giveaway! I am going to hold you to your promise, so Karen’s husband and that guy in line behind Dyan at the unemployment office had better get their 10% off a coffee. Or else…um, you’ll feel really bad for lying, won’t you?

Also, thanks to everyone who left feedback on yesterday’s entry. It was…interesting (just as I predicted). Looks like I drove off some people who probably shouldn’t have been hanging around here anyway. It’s good to shake down the blog every once in a while. It keeps the site minty fresh. And everyone who said “Oh, no, just say whatever you want to! It’s your blog!” after my defensive blogging post might now have a little insight as to why I laughed my ass off after reading that advice.

BTW, I also wanted to thank everyone who has clicked through on my Amazon links. I meant to thank you on Saturday in my “Elsewhere” entry, but I was too tired to turn the computer back on and edit it, just like I’m too lazy to link to that entry right now. Anyway, I really do appreciate the support and hope the goodwill you put out into the world comes back onto you threefold.

I also wanted to clarify one thing. I am truly grateful for all the support I’ve gotten on this blog, from people who’ve recommended my book or bought it for friends, to people who’ve bought products through my links, or just to people who’ve read all the entries and given me lots of pageviews. You’ve been awesome. However, all that means is that I owe you a thank you.

Thank you.

I was struck by the sense of ownership some people expressed over me in my previous entry. You can buy a book with my name and my picture on it, but you don’t buy me with it. I’m happy to invite you to hang out here. I love the community we’ve built. But I belong to myself and no one else. My book and your click-throughs are not a remote via which you control me. You don’t own me, but I’m happy to share a part of myself with you. Thank you to everyone who understands and respects that.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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19 Comments

Karen in Tally • December 9, 2008 at 9:08 am

PastaQueen is the most awesome benevolent dictator!

Thank you!

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Cheryl • December 9, 2008 at 9:12 am

PQ-

So now you have a blog about blogging instead of a blog about weight loss, exercise and your humorous observations of daily life. It’s a tough time to find humor in much of anything, and if you health issues, well it’s hard to feel “funny” when you’d like to be able to detach your head.

It’s all good. Peace,

Cheryl

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Erin • December 9, 2008 at 10:24 am

Very interesting, Jennette. I had a hard time putting my finger on what bothered me about some of the responses, and I think that was exactly it.

I, for one, am: pro-snark, pro-setting-a-few-guidelines, and pro-saying-what-you-want. Isn’t that what this new-fangled, democratic interwebs is all about? Do it yourself publishing? If people can’t find what the want here, they can publish themselves. And then we still get un-filtered you, which is the point of blogging, IMHO. YMMV.

Best,

Erin

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Ginger • December 9, 2008 at 10:42 am

“Looks like I drove off some people who probably shouldn’t have been hanging around here anyway.”

Wow.

Consider your own sense of ownership over your readers, PQ. I read yesterday’s post and comments with interest in seeing the exploration of the blogger/reader relationship. I was happy to see a multifaceted discussion emerge. If this above is what you took away from that discussion, then I guess you can count me as one who shouldn’t have been hanging around here.

There is a possibility that some of your readers are intelligent, thoughtful people, with insight and ideas that could be valuable not just to you, but to others in your community. Maybe you don’t care about hearing a suggestion for a headache remedy that you’ve already tried, but someone else might. Maybe you don’t want to hear what someone has to say about reassessing your goal weight, but that opinion might reach someone else and be meaningful for them.

Approaching every interaction as a chance to learn is a rewarding way to live. Informed debate is valuable — but only if you have respect for and interest in differing perspectives.

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Sara • December 9, 2008 at 11:22 am

I think blogs are a way to allow other people to walk alongside us on our chosen paths. People gravitate toward what interests them, looking for the common threads in other people’s experiences that they can apply to their own. We don’t call life a ‘journey’ lightly–if we’re doing it right it’s ever evolving, the landscape changing as we move along. Sometimes people get lucky and their journey is interesting enough for people to care to follow.

Your blog isn’t the animal it used to be. Your life continues to change, and your blog is changing right along with it. You openly declared this shift in focus when you launched the new layout for the site, and it stands to reason that your readership is going to experience growing pains in kind. It may be that those who found solace and solidarity in your musings about your weight loss experience simply won’t find what they’re looking for in your newer offerings. You might gain new readers with your shift in subject material. When the landscape changes, the population usually does too.

Sooner or later, it seems like every public figure with a following who wants to change their image and/or focus throws an e-tantrum and shakes the foundations of the community they’ve built. The die hard fans take it in stride, and the rest of the club may or may not weather the storm. You’re right–your readers don’t own you. But neither do you own them, or are you owed their allegiance. You don’t have to pander to your readers, but it pays to be mindful of their importance. A blog without a readership is just another boring diary, and there are millions of them out there.

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jane • December 9, 2008 at 12:16 pm

“You’ve been awesome. However, all that means is that I owe you a thank you” is not really any kind of gratitude. That’s a big old “but” after the thanks.

Of course I don’t own you and you don’t owe me anything, even a thank you. This thanks is a response to negative comments and couched by a lesson in ownership and boundaries. No thank you!

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Dee • December 9, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Hmm, sounds like you have been dealing with some real whackjobs.

Oh, the price of popularity…

Well, the good news is, I’m NOT a whackjob. I’m just here to enjoy your posts. Cuz it’s all about me, don’tchaknow.

LOL

Have a fabulous Tuesday.

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JDM • December 9, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I don’t read very many blogs, but your continued insistence on preserving this as your space, where you rule, is both unique and unnerving. I don’t see it anywhere else, and I wonder why it is such an important issue to you. Nowhere else have I seen a blogger write, “This is my turf, and I get to win here. Period.” I wonder what you’re trying to prove, what it is that you get to “win.”

I really admire your decision to refocus your blog and move away from weight loss because I think it shows a real desire to grow as a writer and move on to other challenges. But ever since you did that, your efforts to shape your readers’ responses have increased. You could be writing thoughtful essays about how your life has changed in ways you never even thought possible and may not even want. You could be trying to educate people about what it’s like to live in chronic pain. You could be sharing more thoughtful, personal pieces like the one about ten days ago about how your frame of reference has shifted to the “thinnest” you. I’m sure those pieces would be a pleasure to read. Instead, you’re sticking your tongue out at us and daring us to invade your playground. How you choose to spend your time is up to you, but I know which writer I’d rather read.

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DonnaLynn • December 9, 2008 at 3:35 pm

I can’t imagine the stress of being afraid you’re going to lose your job, dealing with life changes due to major weight loss, and even the combat between cats. I can, however, imagine my own stressful life and how it affests my own mood, which comes out in my writing, as I said in yesterday’s comments section.

Just live. Keep writing. Some of us enjoy seeing the ups and downs and how you handle it.

You went from being a somewhat private person (being fat will do that to you I’ve learned the hard way) to being a public face, and with that comes a lot of changes and different reactions to it on different days.

I’m enjoying your blog. I enjoyed the part where you lost the weight, and I’m enjoying the part where the weight is gone and you’re keeping it off, while dealing with the rest of life as well.

I enjoy the fact that you pick a topic and explore your own thoughts on it, rather than what may be popular, and that you frequently don’t ask for opinions or even form complete conclusions on whatever the matter is. You didn’t come to a conclusion in your “comments” post, just posted some thoughts and opened it up for others to post their thoughts and think about their own reasons, or the reasons of others, for posting or not posting a comment. You cause people to think, rather than thinking for them. I like that.

I also enjoyed whoever’s comment it was where they said that bloging is inviting others to walk along side you on your journey. How true. My own most recent post invites people to sit there with me as I go through something difficult, and to think outside themselves for a minute, which I find you do on a frequent basis. You’ve invited us to sit in the cars of your friends while dealing with the seatbelt issue, you’ve invited us to sit down next to you while you worry about keeping your job, and you’ve invited us into a small bit of your daily life at your house with your cats and their issues.

I enjoy that. I enjoy thinking inside someone else’s head for a bit. It gets me out of my own.

-DonnaLynn

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kate • December 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm

@JDM – Yup. You nailed it.

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Liz • December 9, 2008 at 3:54 pm

@Sara – @Sara – Very well said.

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Anji • December 9, 2008 at 6:53 pm

It’s your blog, do what you want! If people don’t like it, go away. It really is that simple.

And, I’m glad you hit the nail on the head by this ‘ownership’ thing.

You don’t owe us nothin’, not even a thank you! If people want to buy your book, they will. If they do, good. If they don’t, too bad. But, we don’t “own” you.

BTW, do what you need to do to keep your sanity with fighting cats. People don’t realise how hard it is… I cried myself to sleep a few times when our cats didn’t get along. If I had the Grandma option, I would have done the same thing…

Take care of YOURSELF… ignore us in the meantime if you need to because, well… we ain’t the boss of ya! :)

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Lynda • December 9, 2008 at 8:51 pm

wow…I don’t think I ever read the comments before yesterday, and probably will never read them again…I just like reading about your life…you seem “real”…atta girl :)

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Kate • December 10, 2008 at 12:47 am

@Ginger -

Damn… I should just go to bed…

This blog is not a discussion board… people do not post to help other people out. There are message boards on WW.com for people to talk about weight loss amongst themselves and on headache sites for people to talk about remedies to get rid of headaches.

How hard is it for someone to just NOT comment on something that the author/owner of the blog has asked not be discussed.

Good bye Ginger!

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Kathy • December 10, 2008 at 9:20 am

I have a question…. you were complaining about the whole ‘echo chamber thing’, and yet, when people with dissenting opinions say that they don’t like what you’ve written (or whatever) you basically say good riddance and that they shouldnt have been around in the first place. So…..how can you go around encouraging differing thoughts and (lively) discussion when you’ve just told all the people that were offering them to not let the door hit them on the way out?

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PastaQueen • December 10, 2008 at 9:51 am

@Kathy – Plenty of people with dissenting opinions have still stuck around and they’re welcome to stay. I bet they’re reading this right now. (Hi, people!) The people I was referring to are those who left comments saying they were leaving, which they are welcome to do and probably should if they don’t enjoy reading the blog anymore. That’s what I meant by my comment. I’ve dropped blogs before and I discover new ones. It’s a natural progression online. I figure it happens every day, but people don’t usually formally announce it.

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ThisIsOldAlready • December 12, 2008 at 8:53 pm

@PastaQueen – Put is this way. If you’re a restaurant manager and customers walk out, disgusted, you should want to know what the heck the problem was. You’re a fool not to. If you’re writing a blog that you intend other people to read (& boost your Amazon commissions, sell more copies of your book, etc) and they find a problem with it so annoying that they refuse to continue, and say so, they’re giving you constructive feedback to consider. The problem here is summed up in the previous comment very well: you say you want dissenting opinions, they are given, and your response is for them to go to hell and good riddance. Why do you blog anymore, anyway? What do you get out of it? What keeps you from disabling comments completely, and not gearing your posts towards the comments that will result? I find your attitude VERY insulting towards your readers. You don’t like agreement, you don’t tolerate disagreement. What’s the point anymore? And knowing that I “shouldn’t be here anyway” just because I miss the original, actually funny tone of former years doesn’t help, either.

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Anon • December 20, 2008 at 6:27 am

I’m not sure that people who haven’t experienced it understand how, well, strange, some interactions with readers can be.

I write several blogs – one for myself, which is hardly read by the public; one that is widely read, and not at all personal, but kind of a public service thing and totally non-commercial; and another, hobby-related, also non-commercial, and fairly well-read.

I also have a special-interest website which has been on the internet nearly since the internet began, and has a large, world-wide viewership.

I get many positive, interesting, informative and thought-provoking responses on/to/from each of these entities. I also get some pretty strange responses, and I, too, am sometimes just blown-away by the entitlement some (a low, but persistent) percentage of my readers feel.

There are readers who ask a question about something in their own collections, and then email, SOMETIMES IN ALL CAPS, the next day if I haven’t responded, because, obviously, I have nothing to do except answer their email immediately. (Those emails invariably don’t include enough information to allow me to answer helpfully in the first place, because apparently impatience is correlated with poor communication and organizational skills.)

I get demands to serve a reader’s needs in some way, provide a thoughtful (and sometimes time-consuming) response, and never get so much as a brief “thanks” in reply.

There are readers who demand that I change the entire focus of my blog for them. That I ship to them, immediately, something I’ve mentioned on my non-commercial blog, and which I quite clearly do not sell. That I make said items in different colors, or alter them in some other way, just for the person who wrote the email. These people do not say “please” when they write, nor, generally, observe any other common forms of courtesy.

There are readers who ask for more information about something, but do so in the most vulgar, rudest ways possible, in spite of the fact that vulgarity is not evident anywhere in my writing.

What these people all have in common is the profound belief that I am there to serve their needs above all else. They are wrong.

My internet presence, in all its variations, represents my willingness to share my experiences, knowledge, skill and so on with a broader community.

In no way do my blogs or my website exist to meet the needs of an aggressive, unpleasant group of people who believe they own me because they saw something I wrote on the internet.

For this small group, the fact that my blogs and my website – and other blogs and websites – are free means nothing. In their twisted reasoning, because I share, they own me. They’re ugly, and wrong.

Like you, PastaQueen, I’m glad to share. But my generosity does not mean that my viewers own me. There’s nothing wrong with being pleased that those viewers find other blogs to read, or other sites to view. What’s free is a gift, not an entitlement.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that needs to find the nearest rock, and climb back under it. Or go write their own blog (won’t, too lazy) or create their own website (ditto) where they can do whatever they please. There’s no reason why the rest of us should put up with them.

I love most of my readers, and appreciate lively, helpful, value-add responses, whether they agree with me or not. But no one needs the readers I’ve described here. The sense of ownership and entitlement they feel is seriously misplaced, and no reasonable person should be expected to put up with it.

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Anon • December 20, 2008 at 6:29 am

I’m not sure that people who haven’t experienced it understand how, well, strange, some interactions with readers can be.

I write several blogs – one for myself, which is hardly read by the public; one that is widely read, and not at all personal, but kind of a public service thing and totally non-commercial; and another, hobby-related, also non-commercial, and fairly well-read.

I also have a special-interest website which has been on the internet nearly since the internet began, and has a large, world-wide viewership.

I get many positive, interesting, informative and thought-provoking responses on/to/from each of these entities. I also get some pretty strange responses, and I, too, am sometimes just blown-away by the entitlement some (a low, but persistent) percentage of my readers feel.

There are readers who ask a question about something in their own collections, and then email, SOMETIMES IN ALL CAPS, the next day if I haven’t responded, because, obviously, I have nothing to do except answer their email immediately. (Those emails invariably don’t include enough information to allow me to answer helpfully in the first place, because apparently impatience is correlated with poor communication and organizational skills.)

I get demands to serve a reader’s needs in some way, provide a thoughtful (and sometimes time-consuming) response, and never get so much as a brief “thanks” in reply.

There are readers who demand that I change the entire focus of my blog for them. That I ship to them, immediately, something I’ve mentioned on my non-commercial blog, and which I quite clearly do not sell. That I make said items in different colors, or alter them in some other way, just for the person who wrote the email. These people do not say “please” when they write, nor, generally, observe any other common forms of courtesy.

There are readers who ask for more information about something, but do so in the most vulgar, rudest ways possible, in spite of the fact that vulgarity is not evident anywhere in my writing.

What these people all have in common is the profound belief that I am there to serve their needs above all else. They are wrong.

My internet presence, in all its variations, represents my willingness to share my experiences, knowledge, skill and so on with a broader community.

In no way do my blogs or my website exist to meet the needs of an aggressive, unpleasant group of people who believe they own me because they saw something I wrote on the internet.

For this small group, the fact that my blogs and my website – and other blogs and websites – are free means nothing. In their twisted reasoning, because I share, they own me. They’re ugly, and wrong.

Like you, PastaQueen, I’m glad to share. But my generosity does not mean that my viewers own me. There’s nothing wrong with being pleased that those viewers find other blogs to read, or other sites to view. What’s free is a gift, not an entitlement.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that needs to find the nearest rock, and climb back under it. Or go write their own blog (won’t, too lazy) or create their own website (ditto) where they can do whatever they please. There’s no reason why the rest of us should put up with them.

I love most of my readers, and appreciate lively, helpful, value-add responses, whether they agree with me or not. But no one needs the readers I’ve described here. The sense of ownership and entitlement they feel is seriously misplaced, and no reasonable person should be expected to put up with it.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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